Online conveyancing – what does it all mean?
Most of us will only need to use the services of a conveyancer a handful of times during our lives. This relative lack of experience explains why many people feel confused about what the process entails, and are unsure how to get started.
The first step of the process is to choose a conveyancer. So what options are available to you? In the past, most people would have automatically opted for their high street ‘bricks and mortar’ solicitor, primarily because it was the only option available to them. However, the traditional service offered by this kind of solicitor could often be slow, frustrating and expensive.
These days, as with so many aspects of our modern lives, the internet has opened up a world of new possibilities. The rise of online conveyancing has led to greater competition and increased choice for consumers, who can now benefit from a faster, more efficient service and reduced conveyancing costs.
So, is choosing an online conveyancer really a ‘no-brainer’? In this article, we look at the pros and cons.
What is online conveyancing?
Online conveyancing varies from those firms who simply offer online quotation tools to those, like enact, who have a secure online portal where you can track the progress of your case online and upload/download documents, communicate with your conveyancer. Whether the process takes place online or offline, the steps involved in conveyancing will be the same, as will the outcome. An online conveyancer will still be responsible for protecting your interests, preparing the contracts and making sure your property transaction is conducted properly and lawfully. The key difference is how the steps are managed and communicated.
What are the pros of online conveyancing?
No nasty surprises
Online conveyancers usually charge a fixed rate, which will covers all aspects of their service, through to completion. A lot of traditional solicitors still charge an hourly rate for the time they spend on your transaction. This lack of transparency can lead to nasty surprise bills at the end of the process, and most consumers prefer knowing the full cost in advance.
As well as informing you of the likely final cost from the outset, the quote given to you by an online conveyancer could be considerably cheaper than a traditional solicitor.
Use of new technologies such as biometric identification and e-signatures can help customers save time and speed up the conveyancing process.
Many online conveyancers offer web-based tools to help you track the progress of your sale. You can log in from anywhere, 24-7 and see exactly where you are in the process and what actions are still outstanding. In itself, this may not speed up the transaction, but it will help you feel more in control.
So what are the downsides?
Just as with any service, you get good online conveyancers and bad ones. If you’ve opted to go down the online conveyancing route, don’t automatically go for the cheapest quote, as it may be too good to be true. Do your research before committing – check online reviews and contact the companies on your shortlist to get a feel for their level of service. It’s worth putting in a little time and effort now to be sure you’ll reap the benefits later.
If you choose an online conveyancer, you’ll find that most communication takes place via email, phone, SMS or even via an online portal. You may or may not like this, depending on your preferences. Some people like the fact that you can pop in and see a high street solicitor face-to-face if needs be.
In summary, you need to be clear from the outset about the service elements that are most important to you. If you favour flexibility over a physical presence, and transparency over tradition, then online conveyancing is likely to be the right route for you. The fact that it also will probably cost less is just the icing on the cake!